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Christmas Pudding Cake

I made this cake/pudding last Christmas, a fabulous Nigella recipe, for one of those celebration meals sometime after the big day and before New Year. I’m posting again for anyone who is looking for a relatively simple cake to make for Christmas or Boxing Day. There’s no baking required, more an assembly of different luscious elements.

It’s a kind of “tiramisu meets trifle”! Layers of liqueur soaked panettone are interspersed with a mascarpone/ cream/egg/sugar/liqueur mixture with glacé fruit, chocolate and pistachios added.

I made a couple of alterations to the original recipe. I soaked the panettone in Cointreau as the specified Tuaca liqueur is hard to obtain.  As I was unable to source marrons glacés (candied chestnuts), I used glacé ginger instead.

The other recipe alteration was entirely accidental – the recipe asks for Marsala to flavour the mascarpone mixture. I inadvertently grabbed a bottle of coffee liqueur and used this instead. A happy accident as it turned out as the cake now had a real tiramisu flavour!

The link to Nigella’s recipe is here for the original version.

A couple of points. I think finely chopped chocolate is preferable to chocolate chips as these are a little too crunchy in the cake. The other thing to take note of, is not to overbeat the mixture when you add the mascarpone as mascarpone can easily curdle as I found out to my cost!

Here is the recipe as I made it.

Ingredients

625 grams panettone (approximately)
6 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
2 large free-range eggs at room temperature
75 gms caster sugar
500 gms mascarpone cheese
250 mls cream
125 mls coffee liqueur
75 gms glacé ginger
125 gms chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
100 gms pistachios chopped
Pomegranate seeds from half a pomegranate

Method

Using a serrated knife, cut the panettone roughly into 1cm slices, then use about a third of these to line the bottom of a 22cm springform cake tin. Tear off pieces to fit so that there are no gaps.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of  the orange liqueur over the panettone.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until very frothy and increased in volume and lightness.

Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and double cream, then gradually whisk in the coffee liqueur and whisk until the mixture is thick and spreadable. If you stop every so often you can gauge how thick the mixture is and whether you are in danger of overbeating.

Remove 250ml or a cup of the mixture to a bowl, cover and put in the fridge, for the top layer of the cake.

Chop the glacé ginger into small pieces and then add to the rest of the mascarpone cream mixture.  Then add 100gms of the chocolate chips and 75gms of the chopped pistachios, and fold both into the mixture.

Spoon half of the mixture on top of the panettone layer in the cake tin. Put another third of the panettone slices over the cream filling, again making sure there are no gaps. Sprinkle with another 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Spoon the other half of the cream mixture onto to the panettone. Top with the final layer of panettone, leaving no gaps and sprinkle over the last 2 tablespoons of liqueur.

Cover the cake tightly with clingfilm, pressing down on the top a little, and put in the fridge for at least overnight.

To serve, take the cake out of the fridge, unmould it and sit it on a flat plate or cake stand, then spread with the reserved mascarpone mixture. Definitely don’t try to lift the cake off the base, as the cake is too soft and moist to remove.

Scatter the top of the cake with the remaining chocolate chips and chopped pistachios and the pomegranate seeds. The cake will look a little rustic around the sides but this is part of its charm!

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Blueberry and Raspberry Mini Cakes

I’m still working on mini cake recipes, little cakes which are full of flavour and fruit, not too big, not too small. Ottolenghi has lots of recipes in his fabulous book Sweet, for little cakes he calls tea cakes, perfect served with a cup of tea! These have inspired me to keep on developing my mini cake recipes.

One of the issues I have experienced with my little cakes is the problem of cakes sticking and coming out in pieces.  I have lots of fancy molds, and I am slowly working out which molds are the best for turning out perfect cakes and also, the best way to prepare the molds beforehand.

So, I have come to the conclusion that mini bundt molds are tricky to turn out, so I am avoiding them for the moment. I also picked up some advice somewhere, I think from Ottolenghi, or maybe from Nigella, that buttering the molds and flouring them, freezing for half an hour then buttering again, gives you a pretty good chance of the cakes coming out whole.

Here are two recipes, both based on the same basic cake mixture, one for blueberry, lemon and almond cakes, and one for raspberry and almond cakes.

Blueberry, Lemon and Almond Cakes

Ingredients

65g self-raising flour

60 ground almonds

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

125g fresh blueberries

Lemon Icing

2 tbsp lemon juice

Enough sifted icing sugar to make a thick but spreadable icing

3 blueberries for little cake for decorating

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter, flour, freeze and butter again your chosen molds. I used popover molds, but muffin molds would be fine. You will get 6 cakes from the popover molds, probably 8 from the muffin molds.

Put all the ingredients except the milk  and the blueberries in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing the food processor to get a mixture that is not to stiff and of dropping consistency.

Carefully fold the blueberries into the mixture with a spoon.

Spoon the mixture into the molds, making sure you don’t fill more than  3/4 of the mold.

Place the molds in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Once the cakes have cooled for about 15 minutes, carefully up end the molds and ease the cakes out of the molds.  Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to make an icing that will drip over the cakes. Ice the little cakes, adding 3 blueberries on the top of each cake for decoration.

Raspberry and Almond Cakes

Ingredients

65g self-raising flour

60 ground almonds

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

3 raspberries for each cake mold

Lemon Icing

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 or 3 pureed raspberries

Enough sifted icing sugar to make a thick but spreadable icing

1 raspberry for little cake for decorating

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter, flour, freeze and butter again your chosen molds as for blueberry cakes.

Put all the ingredients except the milk  and the raspberries in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing the food processor to get a mixture that is not to stiff and of dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into the molds, making sure you don’t fill more than  3/4 of the mold. Carefully pop 3 raspberries into each cake mold.

Place the molds in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Once the cakes have cooled for about 15 minutes, carefully up end the molds and ease the cakes out of the molds.  Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, mix the lemon juice and pureed raspberries with enough icing sugar to make an icing that will drip over the cakes. Ice the little cakes, adding 1 raspberry on the top of each cake for decoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buttermilk Crumpets for Breakfast!

This is the third post on breakfast featuring yummy home made treats which taste so much nicer knowing you have made them yourself, plus you can feel pretty virtuous too!

I have made crumpets a few times before, but this time I was keen to incorporate buttermilk from the wonderful Pepe Saya, maker of all kinds of delicious dairy products. I didn’t know how buttermilk would go in the recipe, but figured it could only add to the flavour. Which it did. 

This recipe owes a lot to a version I found while searching the internet, from this wonderful blog. http://www.kulinaryadventuresofkath.com/theblog/2017/7/7/buttermilk-crumpets-homemade-butter

I have tweaked here and there to suit my version of these delicious crumpets. 

Ingredients

250g strong white flour
9g fast action yeast
55ml tepid water
275ml buttermilk at room temperature
1tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50ml warm water
Butter for greasing and cooking

Method

Put the flour and yeast into a large bowl. Measure the water and buttermilk and combine with the sugar. Add this mixture to the flour/yeast and stir to combine.

Cover the bowl with cling wrap or my favourite – a plastic shower cap, the kind you get in the toiletries provided in hotels. I collect a heap of them for all my bread, yeast pastries and crumpet making! Leave to rise until the mixture has almost doubled in size and has lots of bubbles.

At this point turn on your hot plate and heat a large heavy bottomed frying pan or griddle pan. You will need to cook the crumpets in metal crumpet rings, but egg rings will do too. Grease whatever rings you are using with melted butter.

Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the water, then stir into the batter.

Melt a small knob of butter in the pan. You don’t need too much – be prepared to pour some out – you don’t want the crumpets to swim in the butter.

Place 2-3 rings in the pan, depending on the size of your rings and the pan. Spoon in enough mixture to fill about ½ to ¾ of each ring. Cook on a medium heat until bubbles then small holes appear on the tops. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Then flip the crumpets over, easing the crumpets out of the rings. Cook on the other sides for a couple of minutes until the bottoms are brown.

Remove from the pan, keep warm to eat straight away. Or cool to room temperature and then freeze. They freeze really well – defrost in the fridge, then toast before serving.

Re-grease the crumpet rings and cook the crumpets using the rest of the batter.

I served the crumpets with butter and lots of beautiful Beechwood honey! Yummy!

 

 

 

 

Buttermilk Pancakes for Breakfast!

When I first started this blog in 2013, I was keen to post lots of different culinary experiences as well as my own cooking efforts. So writing up a great meal is obligatory!

We had a memorable breakfast back then, cooked in the beautiful Hunter Valley, one of the best wine districts in NSW, if not in Australia, on a weekend retreat.

The brekkie was cooked by “the doctors”, two of my oldest and dearest friends. They cooked Bill Granger’s buttermilk pancakes and French toast, and the link to that post is here.

Here we are in 2018 and the doctors have done it again, cooking Bill’s buttermilk pancakes for breakfast, this time in Terrigal, a beachside locality on the central coast of NSW. The doctors have wisely decided to make Terrigal their other home, and we were lucky enough to have a relaxing weekend at their new abode.

Doctor B served the pancakes with fresh fruit, mango yoghurt and lashings of maple syrup.  I probably shouldn’t have, but I just needed to add a spoonful of Nutella…

Ingredients
250g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
750 ml buttermilk
75g unsalted butter, melted
Unsalted butter, extra, for greasing the pan

Method
Stir the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a bowl.
Add the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter and whisk to combine.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and brush a small portion of butter over the base.
For each pancake, ladle 1/3 cup of batter into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface.
Turn the pancakes over and cook for another minute.
Transfer to a plate and keep warm while cooking the rest of the pancakes.

Croissants for Breakfast!


I make croissants maybe a couple of times year. Not that often, as it’s an 18 hour process with so much proving to happen.

A while back I made croissants to take away to Bundanoon, in the beautiful Southern Highlands in NSW. We were staying at the lovely “Fulford Folly”, an idyllic  country retreat with the added bonus of the company of two mini donkeys! We had a great break, and home made croissants on the verandah for breakfast seemed appropriate.

In previous posts I talk about my experimenting with enriched dough recipes, coming up with a recipe that works for both croissants and Danish pastries. So here is the recipe again, with photos of our breakfast. I served the croissants with lashings of cultured butter and my Plum, Raisin and Walnut Jam, the recipe is here if you’re interested.

Ingredients

450g strong flour
40g caster sugar
10g salt
10g instant yeast
10g unsalted butter, chilled
300mls full fat milk
250g unsalted high quality butter, chilled
1 free-range egg

Method

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, sugar, salt and test until combined, rubbing the salt and yeast in at opposite sides of the bowl. Roughly rub in the 10g butter until crumb-like, then add the milk and form into a dough.

Mix the dough on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes, until it has become smooth and doesn’t break when stretched. Place in a large plastic zip lock bag and refrigerate for at least an hour  but preferably overnight.

Once the dough has rested, take the additional butter and place it between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper or cling film. Using a rolling pin, bash the butter until it flattens into a square, roughly 30cm x 20 cm. Return the butter to the fridge and remove the dough.

Roll out the dough on floured surface until it is a rectangle, about 50cm x 20cm. Lay the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of it. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.

Fold the exposed dough at the top down one-third of the butter. Now gently cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and put it on the top of the dough you have just folded down. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for an hour to harden butter.

Gently roll the dough out into a new rectangle about three to four times as long as it is wide. Gently take both ends and fold them over towards each other, so that they meet in the middle (your rectangle should now be half as long as it was). Then, fold the new shape in half again, closing it like a book. Place in the ziplock bag,  and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Carefully, repeat the instructions in the last paragraph twice more, so that the dough has been folded and rested three times altogether.

The dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly. It is then ready to use.

Line 2 or 3 baking trays with baking paper.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle, about 40cm long and 30cm wide. Trim the edges to neaten them.

Cut the rectangle lengthways into 2 strips, then cut triangles along the length of each strip, about 12cm wide at the base and about 15cm high. You could use the first triangle as template for the rest, but I find it easier just to measure and cut each one. Hopefully you will get 6 triangles from each strip, but I don’t think it matters if you get one more or one less!

Hold down the wide base of the triangle and gently tug the opposite thin end to cause a slight tension in the dough. This helps with getting a tight roll. Starting at the wide end of the triangle, roll up into a croissant shape. Repeat with each triangle. Keep the ends of the croissants straight, apparently this is more authentic.

Put the croissants onto the baking trays, leaving space in between each of them to expand. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag (I have some really large clear plastic bags I saved from a delivery or purchase)

Leave the croissants to rise at room temperature until  doubled in size. This should take about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Whisk the egg with a pinch of salt to make an egg wash and brush the top and sides of the croissants with the eggwash. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Of  course you can eat them  warm, but they do freeze well, so if you’re going to freeze them, do it as soon as they have cooled slightly.

Halloween Blueberry Yoghurt Cakes

It’s coming up for Halloween in week or so, and these rather lurid blue gems are the perfect thing for hungry Trick or Treaters! They’re not the prettiest cakes in the world,  but they’re yummy, crammed full of blueberries and iced with a lemon glaze. And their “blue blood” dripping dripping down the sides is sure to be a winner!

A word of warning: they’re very moist, so grease your molds really well, or maybe use paper cases. A couple of my bottoms stuck to the molds, because the mixture was so moist.

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs
140g raw sugar
75ml vegetable oil
50g fresh blueberries + extra fo decorating
100g Greek yoghurt
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla paste
100g frozen blueberries

Icing
Juice of a lemon
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
Blue food colouring

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Grease a 6 cup large muffin mould, or use a normal muffin mould and you will get 6-8 smaller cakes. Remember to grease very well or use paper cases.

Put the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until the eggs are frothy. Add the sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has increased in volume. Add the the oil and the fresh blueberries and continue whisking. You actually want the fresh blueberries to break up a bit to give some “blue” colour to the mixture. Add the yoghurt and whisk until incorporated. The mixture will be quite liquid.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla paste. Gently incorporate into the mixture. Fold in the frozen blueberries.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin holes, filling to about three quarters way up.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, but the cakes may cook more quickly. Check the cakes at 15 minutes and then at 5 minutes intervals, using a skewer to test for “doneness”.

Cool for 5 minutes before very carefully turning out the cakes.

To make the icing, add enough of the juice of a lemon to the icing sugar to make a droppable icing. Spoon out half of the lemon icing and add blue food colour to the half mixture drop by drop until you have the right shade of blue.

Ice the cakes with the both the plain icing and blue icing in whatever artistic or crazy way you like! But make sure the icing drips to suit the Halloween theme! Finally add a blueberry on top of each cake.




 

Blood Orange Upside Down Cakes

IMG_7705 IMG_7697It’s the last couple of weeks for blood oranges in Sydney. Nothing beats the flavour and colour of blood oranges – I await the arrival of these ruby red gems eagerly each year and try to include them in lots of delicious recipes. I made these mini cakes a year ago, and, looking over blood orange recipes, thought I would repost this one again, just in time for the last of the fruit.

These are some more blood orange treats I have posted and are definitely worth a try.

Blood Orange Breakfast Sorbet with Granola and Fresh Fruit

Blood Orange Friands

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

Little Strawberry and Blood Orange Cakes

Here’s the recipe for these “mini” blood orange cakes.

Ingredients 

Candied orange slices

2 blood oranges

200g caster sugar

Cakes

2 blood oranges

200g  caster sugar

125g very soft butter

2 free range eggs

½ tsp vanilla essence

125g plain flour

75g ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

Method

For the candied orange slices, finely slice 2 of the oranges, discarding the ends and keeping as many slices intact as you can.

Dissolve 200g of the sugar in 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Carefully place the orange slices in the syrup and simmer them until they are soft and sticky. Remove from the syrup using tongs. If the syrup is not reduced enough, cook it for a few minutes extra to thicken – but don’t let it go to toffee.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

I use a set of mini cake tins which have removeable bottoms for these upside cakes, see the photo.

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You could also use mini springform tins, but you will end up with small cakes rather than mini cakes. If you don’t have a tin/s with removeable bottoms, you could use an ordinary muffin tin, but turning out the mini cakes will be tricky, as you need to keep the candied orange slices intact.

Grease whatever tins you are using well, and line the bases with circles of baking paper.

Chop 2 of the blood oranges in quarters and remove each end. Blitz in the food processor until reasonably finely chopped – there should still be some small chunks in the mixture. Add the butter and 200g of the sugar and blitz in the food processor. The mixture will look very curdled!

Add the eggs and vanilla and blitz again, the mixture will still look very curdled! Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, making sure not to over mix or the cake with toughen. The cake mixture will now look “normal”.

Place the candied orange slices on the paper bases in the tin/s, one should be enough unless you are using a larger tin. Be as artistic as possible, remembering, as these are upside down cakes, that the bottoms become the top! Place the batter over the top of the slices.

Bake for 20- 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. As these cakes are small, they may need a little less cooking, but they are also quite moist, so may need the allotted time. My advice is check after 15 minutes and keep checking thereafter. If you are using small springform pans you will need a little longer.

Remove from the oven once cooked and cool the tin/s on a wire rack. When the cakes are cool (not cold), carefully remove each mini cake from the tin/s. Even more carefully, take off the bases and peel away the baking paper.

Brush the mini cakes with the blood orange syrup and serve. IMG_7726

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